Nightly News | May 22, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: And overseas, a lot of people are keeping a sharp eye on what's going on in Iceland where the country's most active volcano has been erupting since last night. Already there are worries of another air travel nightmare like the one last year when another volcano erupted. Trans-Atlantic planes, including President Obama 's flight to Ireland tonight on Air Force One , are being instructed to steer clear of Iceland . We get the latest tonight from NBC 's Tazeen Ahmad .
TAZEEN AHMAD reporting: Plumes of smoke shot 12 miles into the sky, a large bubbling mass of ashy clouds. Iceland 's most active volcano , Grimsvotn , caught everyone off guard with the size of its eruption late on Saturday. It erupts frequently, but never so intensely. The main airport shut down, every flight was canceled. Other airports may follow suit.
Mr. PALL EINARSSON (University of Iceland Geophysicist): It still remains to be seen how long the ash is going to persist in the atmosphere and what the long-term effect on air traffic will be.
AHMAD: On the ground, a heavy fall of ash turned day into night , with the volcano still erupting. It was hard to see road markings. Farmers worked through the night to save their livestock, anxious, but determined.
AHMAD: 'We have to deal with it,' says this farmer. The big worry is there will be a repeat of scenes from last year when another of Iceland 's volcanoes erupted, causing chaos around the world. European airspace was closed down, 10 million travelers caught up in the disruption.
Mr. EINARSSON: That was an unusual volcano, and an unusual ash size distribution, and unusual weather pattern which all conspired together to make life difficult in Europe.
AHMAD: Iceland 's police are on the streets urging people to stay indoors. Authorities are monitoring the situation closely. There are fears that ash could reach Europe by Tuesday, if the volcano continues to erupt. That and weather conditions just like last year would put European airspace at risk. Tazeen Ahmad , NBC News, London.